Annie, I’ve got a lot of time to hear your theories, and I want to hear every damn one of them. But now I’m tired, and I don’t want to think about baseball and I don’t want to think about quantum physics. I don’t want to think about nothing. I just want to be. — Crash Davis, Bull Durham
Yet as with all religions, there comes a time when heresy shoves aside faith. Watching baseball played ineptly and tepidly for day after day after day after day does not inspire love. It does not make you look forward to 1:10 and 7:10. It makes filled-in spaces on calendars seem like extra trips to the DMV and or dentist. It makes “I got recap” sound like a chore.
That’s being a Mets fan right now. They are awful — reliably bad in the box score and the standings. But worse than that, they are boring. They aren’t a tragicomedy like the clubs overseen by Casey Stengel or Joe Torre or Dallas Green once upon a time. They’re Art Howe boring and bad — they darken the room.
I was at a wedding this weekend, which was a wonderful time — but by the end I missed my Mets, and never mind that they were getting beaten by the Nationals. I was happy to have a game to take in tonight — for about an hour. By the end of that hour I was mad, and spent the next two tweeting mean things about the team. It didn’t make me feel any better. By the time Mike Baxter flied out, I was just glum and tired.
It’s a familiar feeling, given that the Mets are a horrifying 11-25 since the break, even worse than I’d feared. Given that, I can think of exactly three reasons to watch the Mets until 2013 gets here:
1. David Wright is a home run away from 200. Wright is, of course, a fine player having a good year at the plate (despite a second-half swoon) and an excellent year in the field. More than that, he is decent and patient and loyal — at our last blogger event at Citi Field, I kept my eye on Wright and was amazed at how many times he was asked to sign something or shake hands with someone or chat about something or do this one more thing. It was exhausting to watch, and we weren’t even at game time yet. Wright did it all without complaining or looking like his energy was flagging. It was, in its own way, as superhuman as being able to hit a fastball traveling 95 miles an hour or managing to spear a sizzling grounder that’s already behind your glove. He deserves our thanks and recognition for a well-earned milestone.
2. R.A. Dickey could win 20. At the moment it looks like winning 16 will be a struggle, given how little help Dickey’s getting most nights. But if the Mets step up their mighty post-All-Star-Game winning percentage to a cool .333 or so, that ought to get R.A. to 18 wins or so, and hey, who knows? Dickey is having a remarkable year, one that might be significant not just for him but for the evolution of the pitch he throws. Win or lose, he is a ferocious competitor and a fascinating thinker, and always worth watching.
3. Matt Harvey is good. Harvey is an old-school power pitcher with tremendous potential. He’s got a ways to go, but he looks like he’s learning quickly on the job, and his mindset includes that certain arrogance that comes with being an effective power pitcher. He’s a preview of a better future, and God knows we all need as much of that as we can get right now.
The rest? You can take it. I’m no longer interested in grading Ike Davis’s tantrums after his latest horrible at-bat, or wondering what numbnuts thing Andres Torres will do next, or surveying the pitiful ruin of Jason Bay’s once-proud career. There’s nothing left to see except further evidence that what we see now better not be what we see next April. Which both we and our front office knew some time ago.
The Mets do nothing, and then they do bad things, and then they do dumb things. That’s their blueprint for most games now, as you saw tonight. Dickey pitched well, with the exception of a lone floating knuckler that Tyler Colvin banged off the facing of the Pepsi Porch to tie the game at 1-1. He got no help other than that lone run, and was pulled for a pinch-hitter (the affably useless Justin Turner) in the seventh. Josh Edgin came in for the eighth and in rapid succession made a dismal throwing error, passed up an out at third and then fired a wild slider past Kelly Shoppach to give the Rockies the lead. The Mets tried to fight back in the bottom of the eighth, and Jordany Valdespin came within an eyelash of driving in the tying run with a grounder past first, but he inexplicably slid into the base, slowing himself down enough to be nipped by Colorado’s Matt Belisle on a bang-bang play that Adrian Johnson (he of June’s momentous gift call on Carlos Beltran) got right — and stuck to with quiet dignity while Valdespin raged sufficiently for most umps to throw him out. Good moment in a bad year for MLB umps; bad moment in a so-so year for Valdespin.
So here’s your blueprint for the rest of season: Start figuring out your bandwagon team, wait for Wright to hit No. 200, and then check and see if Dickey or Harvey is pitching. And if they’re not? Go ahead and date that nice woman from the bar, whether she’s proposing Tuesday night or any other evening. Your doctor’s right that you have no time to waste — hell, not mooning over this shipwreck of a team will probably improve your health anyway. No-fly list? Pffft — except for a tasteless Red Grooms montrosity or two, Miami’s awesome. Get on the plane, Ashley.
Or, if you must, get thee to StubHub — we’re probably one more bad homestand from $1 seats at Citi. Look at it as the cover charge for getting that awesome new Pat LaFrieda steak sandwich the bloggers keep going on about. Get there early and eat up. Then figure out something more worthwhile to do with your evening.